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Science File | IN BRIEF

Jupiterlike Planets May Yield Earthlike Planets

September 09, 2006|From Times Wire Reports

Earthlike planets covered with deep oceans that could harbor life may be found in as many as a third of solar systems discovered outside our own, researchers said Thursday.

These solar systems feature gas giants known as "Hot Jupiters," which orbit extremely close to their parent stars -- even closer than Mercury to our sun, University of Colorado researcher Sean Raymond said. The close-orbiting gassy planets may help encourage the formations of smaller, rocky Earthlike planets, the researchers reported in the journal Science.

The team from Colorado, Penn State University and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland ran computer simulations of various types of solar systems forming. The gas giants may help rocky planets form close to the suns, and may help pull in icy bodies that deliver water to the young planets, they found.

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